Hospital Playlist (2020) In Defence of Ahn Jeong-won -- A Repost

As I gradually decrease my involvement with Soompi, I will be posting my opinion pieces and analyses on this blog with greater regularity.

I am supposing from comments here, there and everywhere that there is a very long line of people who would like to punch, kick and smack JWon for 1) giving Gyeo-ul a cold shoulder in those early days 2) taking his own sweet time with his confession. I hear you all and I can't blame any of you for feeling frustrated in the entirety of the original run. The thought that he sat on his confession for at least 3 weeks... well yeah... I too would like to give him a good shake (at least) and ask him why. I have lots of questions for him even though I can probably guess the answers to most of them.

But in his defence, our guy had a lot going on in his head. It was always going to be a hard ask for him to switch gears easily. I think we have to give him some credit for having some principles and sticking to them for as long as he was humanly able. (In that way the show was being realistic) After spending a bit of time in what I think is his head... I have more sympathy for his position. He'd wanted to be a priest for almost all of his life. And he proved to some degree that he was on track. Finally the wheels were in motion and then voila... he meets a girl that he likes. It couldn't have been that easy for him to accept that. As everyone who hasn't been living off the grid knows, I don't think he should be a priest and I don't think God wants him to be one either. I think it was obvious from the start (when he went crying to his big brother) that he wasn't a suitable candidate because the priesthood has pastoral demands that his personality is ill-suited for. His over-empathetic nature would leave him burnt out in no time.

Meeting Gyeo-ul was accidental. It was the biggest surprise of his life undoubtedly. But in the Christian universe... it could arguably be said to be providential. But he had to grapple with that over months because let's face it, no one changes their trajectory easily especially if it conflicts with your most core beliefs in some fashion.

When I look at the ER scene and watch him panic run down the hospital corridors and up the fire escape stairway, it's obvious that he fell hard for her. In a real enough way the person who was most surprised by all this was probably JWon himself. It went to the core of who he was. The man that he thought he was, was experiencing a whole different set of emotions foreign to his understanding of himself. It rocked his view of himself as an aspiring priest. It forced him to re-evaluate as a single, celibate man. In some ways he was like a teenage boy experiencing love for the first time. He didn't have bearings regarding how to understand where he was and the tools to deal with Gyeo-ul after declaring that "she doesn't suit me". That was certainly the case in Episode 5 where he didn't scold her or praise her or make any kind of reference to her chasing down DV dad. Clearly he was upset by it but for some reason he chose to give her the cold shoulder because I would surmise... he really had no idea how to react to her. She was the anomaly in his life that caused him to break his patterns of interaction.

Although I'm sure the showrunners didn't want us to get too bogged down by the WinterGarden dynamic and for the couple involved to be defined by it, at the end of the day, it was inevitable that their dynamic became much bigger than they as individuals. It was was partly the approach they took and the fact that many people watch K dramas for the romance. For better or worse. But the fact was, despite all the detractors from all stripes, the WG is an integral part of JWon's journey to find his true calling. At the end of the day it wasn't a minor thing like a mosquito bite which he could brush off. I've seen people say that they didn't care about the romance or watch HP for it. Well, I didn't approach HP with the view to shipping anyone. But it became increasingly obvious that the show made it an issue. For JWon it was never a side thing. It couldn't be if it caused him to rethink every single thing. Romance was crucial for him in a way that wasn't for the other four.

Rosa was right at least in acknowledging that Gyeo-ul would be a significant variable in how JWon goes forward. She didn't know everything. But she saw enough to give her hope that her recalcitrant youngest son could be persuaded to change his mind even when no one else could. Not Rosa herself, not his oldest brother, not his friends. Certainly not Song-hwa. Can we honestly say that the romance doesn't matter? It was set up by the showrunners in such a way as to say that it was certainly a factor in whether YYS comes back for a second or third season as a pediatric surgeon. Nobody that was familiar in JWon's life prior to his working at Yulje had the power to change his trajectory.

I have no idea how far ahead the showrunners have thought about the future seasons but I am at least certain that keeping JWon in Yulje is part of some bigger plan for the hospital. For me he has always been Peter Pan and getting him out of Neverland is only the start of something else that related to the leadership of the hospital. Again I feel that the WG dynamic has a part to play in that.